It is not just the lights. SOS pays other real returns to these schools and nearby villages. They save precious funds previously spent on cash-guzzling fuel and noise-polluting generators. “We used to have to choose between sweltering heat or hearing the lesson,” Ahmed said one SOS school manager told him.
Zakat Foundation contributors electrified their first school, which had no prior governmental provision for electricity, in August 2016. SOS has lit up 17 rural schools across Pakistan since.
“We first intended to provide outlying healthcare clinics with solar electricity to refrigerate vaccines and medicines,” said Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation’s executive director. Complications in identifying and serving these far-flung facilities caused delays, “but along the way saw all these school children with virtually no electricity. We said, let’s give them light, and SOS was born.”
Honed by its success in lighting up farming community schools, Zakat Foundation has sliced through the red tape and gained approval to install solar electricity for three rural healthcare clinics in what will become Phase III of the SOS project in 2019.